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Why I Won't Buy a Google Stadia | The Takedown

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Back in March 2019, Google announced something related to gaming that people can buy, and I'm having a hard time explaining what that is.. I was going to say that it announced a console, but the console doesn't exist. It showed some triple A games being played on a pixel Chromebook, but it wasn't any store copies of said games, so it's not like you can pop a disk into the Chromebook, and it could play it from the disk or anything.

The announcement was proceeded by a leak of the controller's design, and let's be honest here, the controller is just about the only thing you could actually buy. Everything else either doesn't physically exist, or can only be played if you share the same internet as CERN.

You see, Google Stadia is a cloud gaming platform. That footage you see of Red Dead Redemption is being played on one of the monoliths from 2001: A Space Odessy, and Google is claiming that you can play games at 4K with a consistent 60FPS, on just about anything with a Google Chrome browser installed.

This is the point in the article where I tell you why that's bullshit. For anyone who has ever tried to use Google cast within the comfort of their own home, you would struggle to get anywhere near a less than 1 second delay at 720P, let alone 4K. So, just imagine trying to do that over a north American "High Speed" connection for a moment. Seriously, between AT&T's hard 50GB monthly bandwidth limit, and Spectrum's connection reliability being about as consistent as peppy the pig's speech patterns, Google is going to have a really hard time selling this to people who frequented online gaming. In fact, the only people they could manage to sell something like this to are people who don't know shit from Shyamalan about multiplayer, latency issues, dropped frames, ping, or response time in videogames. The only way this experience will even come close to true 4K HDR is if it ran on the same bandwidth latency as the fucking Matrix, and had more jpeg compression and a lower frame rate than found footage of someone being abducted by aliens.

In other words, this is a marketing gimmick. There is no way in blue hell on a green fire 4K HDR would even be playable in north or south America, let alone countries like Australia. Maybe the South Koreans, or Japanese can pull this off, but compared to our internet access, their whole network mine as well be the halodeck from Star Trek by comparison.

Lease your gaming experience.

This brings me to my primary argument, which is that just like the music industry, and even the software industry as a whole, what is marketed on the basis of "convenience" is really an excuse to sell you something you don't even own after you buy it. You're not being sold games on this platform, but the permission to play Google's games on Google's console. and I guess we're supposed to look at a console we're never actually going to see like "oh, look at how edgy and revolutionary that is!"

If you need a prime example of everything that could go wrong with the very concept of leasing something on the cloud for a monthly fee, look no further than every single streaming-based platform that has ever gone out of business. OnLive, Microsoft Books, Vidium, and every single spottify competitor ever made.

Hell, even Netflix -the industry monolith of movie streaming- has repeatedly failed to successfully re-negotiate it's licenses with directors and film studios, causing many to lose their lease and their so-called "purchase" outright, in the blink of an eye.

"Oh, but it's Google!" you say behind the comfort of your 2020 Apple product that you paid a $900 premium for. "They have so-much money! It's not like they can go out of business or anything!" Well, see, that's the thing. Google is never going out of business for several reasons; Chief among those reasons is how often they will kill a project if it doesn't turn a profit. Google Plus, Google Jobs, AngularJS, App maker, Cloud Messaging, and YouTube Gaming were all killed over a year ago alone, with most projects only being in Alpha for less than 6 months! Don't even get me started on how many times Google Hangouts has been cannibalized into something else. Hangouts has more names than a DeviantArt user has gender identities! Make no mistake; Google is the emperor of jettisoning branches of their company, so don't be surprised if this mega-corporation cuts the Stadia brand loose in two years.

Let's take OnLive or Microsoft Books for example: Do you think after these companies went under, and customers lost their 10 to 50+ games or books, they were able to get a refund? You think these people got their money back? No, they didn't.

If you don't actually buy a physical copy of the game, you don't own it. With physical copies of a game, you don't have any way to  preserve the game if Google ever decides to Google+ the platform out of existence, which -at this point- is almost a mathematical certainty.

At least with ROMs, we have a real library of games that are actually as good as they were designed to be from decades ago. You don't get that from cloud-based games. All you get is a license to run something over the internet. A fickle internet, that sometimes gets in moods and is randomly tired of your shit, just as you need to send that important email to a client.

Google Stadia, and the death of software ownership.

Look, I understand "cloud services" are the future, but whether or not that's a 'bright' future -in my opinion- depends on whether or not you're the mega-corporation earning a steady stream of income, or you're the sucker shelling out a monthly premium for something you don't even get a copy of.

If you've ever worked in graphic design, business administration, or video production, you'll notice there's been a trend of software you used to be able to buy a working -permanent- license for, being turned into "live services". Instead of having bought one working copy for life, you're paying either a monthly or yearly licensing fee for every month -or year- you use the thing. Didn't use Adobe Photoshop that month? Well, too bad, because you still gotta pay for it. Want Maya Unlimited for 3D graphic design? You better use it every day to justify the almost $1000 you'll be paying every year.

And, just like "live services" like spotify, we consumers are being marketed this blatant rip-off as a convenience. Big software has paid billions to marketing executives to come up with words like "live services" and "stream from the comfort of your own home[/]office" as a way of softening the impact of the theft. And make no mistake about it: This is theft. The marketing department tells you you're getting "full software", but what you're really getting is a complex lease of software hosted at someone else's house. You don't own sh*t, and the license agreements of most of these software companies make that abundantly clear. At any time, they can reject the license you're paying money for at any time, for any reason, and don't even have to give you an explanation. You could "buy" adobe illustrator in new york city, get home, and find out your license key is rejected because they though you were a Baltimore Raiders fan.

And so, I reject Google Stadia. I reject the very idea of google Stadia. Even if the platform had zero lag and perfect latency, it's the principle of the thing that I don't care for. Selling me games I can BUY on any store shelf for other platforms, offering no exclusives, then telling me I don't even own the copy I just bought is just stupid - not on the part of Google Stadia, but on the part of the consumer who bought the thing in the first place. It would be like if I were a stock broker from the future who traveled back in time to invest all his life savings into the making of the Titanic.

Why I will never buy a Stadia

It's not the fact that nobody gives a shit about property rights that bothers me here. What bothers me is WHY people don't give a shit anymore. That's what worries me.

We are always being told by mainstream tech journalism that this is just the way people want it, and that if it wasn't, people wouldn't use it. This is definitely not true.

When you updated your computer's hard drive from windows 7 to Windows 10 after 7's support ended last year, did you feel like you had a choice? When Apple ended support for snow leopard when Yosemite came out, and you had to buy a whole new freakin' Mac just to run the new OS, did that feel like you were making a "personal choice"? No, it didn't. because it wasn't.

Gen-X and millennial types whine about this all the time, but the Zoomers don't know that yet. They didn't grow up in an era where they could just buy their own software; we did. Zoomers don't complain about it because they don't know what they've lost. 

It sets a dangerous precedent for the future. We make little concessions to this predatory practice until one day, we're paying a shit ton of money for absolutely nothing. You already see it happening with crowd-funding projects like Mighty No.9 and Star Citizen.

  • First, Diablo III -an offline single-player game- could only be played with an internet connection. Everyone complained, but the controversy went away.
  • Playstation decided to turn their once FREE multiplayer platform into a paid service, the way Microsoft did with Xbox live. Everyone complained, but the controversy died, and we moved on.
  • Then Sims 3 was only playable online, despite being a single-player game. Everyone complained, but the controversy went away, and we moved on.
  • Street Fighter 4 and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 had "downloadable content" (DLC) that you had to pay for, despite the fact that you didn't download it, because that "content" was already on the disk you installed the game with! Once again, everyone complained, but the controversy went away, and we moved on.
  • Battlefront II remake sells the game at full price, only to continually force you to pay hundreds of dollars in micro-transactions just to barely stay competitive online. The controversy practically set the world on fire, with mass boycotts and even lawmakers from dozens of countries around the world calling for this practice to be illegal, or at least make it subject to gambling laws. Once again, the controversy dies, and we move on.

Every time we ignore something like this when its a problem, it becomes the new standard a few months later. Why? because we are buying the shit we complain about. We support the streamer who buys these games and these platforms we complain about. It's like going to a strip club, and throwing your whole paycheck at the stripper while complaining about promiscuity. You're practically piping the prostitute while you complain about the sinful nature of fornication.

Gamers are the type of consumers who would buy a bad game for clout. We feel like owning a popularly bad game gives us the right to talk about it. We want to be one of the few people who were an authority on the matter, and this is the whole problem. The problem isn't even the bad games, or the shady platforms: It's US. GAMERS. We did this. Every time we kowtow to an "live service" with our money, we aren't telling them that the practice is bad; we're sending a message that what they're doing is good. Paying these companies for bad practices is like giving your dog a treat every time he shits on the carpet. You can yell at and scold your dog all freken' day; the dog still got the treat, didn't it? What happens when that dog wants a treat again? It's going to shit on the carpet.

I won't ever buy a Stadia because I'm sick of rewarding companies for shitting on the carpet, and you should be as well.

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